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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  March 9, 2010 5:00pm-6:00pm EST

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drug companies and insurance companies. i don't know if you've noticed, but you'll see since the actual concept of competition for insurers went away and the idea was to kick the bill down to the taxpayer and middle class, that the insurance companies stocks have skyrocketed higher actually. >> and they've been going down recently because we're getting closer to pass this thing. the savings alone would be $1,000 for every family if this passes. that's money they pay for people who don't have coverage. but it's in their own policies. >> understood. we agree on the need for the coverage. i just don't think it should be done at the accommodation of special interests. i appreciate your time today, richard. joe biden, the vice president of this country, with chris matthews on "hardball" starting right now. i am dylan ratigan and i'll see you tomorrow. biden in israel. we're with you. let's play "hardball."
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good evening. i'm chris matthews in jerusalem. traveling with vice president joe biden. the vice president met with israeli leaders today. the two big subjects? getting the peace talks with the palestinians going again, and the threat posed by a nuclear armed iran. i sat down with vice president biden for an exclusive interview. that's coming up in a minute. president obama looked more line candidate obama on monday in his push to get health care past the finish line. the opponent this time? the insurance companies. can the president gain traction at the 11th hour by villainizing the insurance industry? let's check that one with the strategists. the strange story of congressman eric massa got much, much stranger today and we'll get to that, too. and the other story dominating the headlines here in israel, and throughout the middle east, is the role of israeli intelligence, mu sad and the assassination of a senior hamas operative in a dubai hotel room. intrigue, and best of all lots of videotape.
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we'll talk to former cia officer bob behr. let's start first with my interview with vice president joe biden. the hot story here is about iran's attempts to acquire nuclear weapons, and what we, the united states, is ready to do to stop it. mr. vice president, should the united states be worried about iran and its nuclear program worried? >> we are concerned about it. we're doing everything in our power to prevent iran from being able to acquire nuclear weapon. we think we're going about it the right way. that's why we're seeking very strong sanction at the u.n. right now. >> do you think they would use one if they had one? would ahmadinejad have whatever, whatever that thing is, to actually launch a nuclear weapon, knowing what you know about him? >> i think that's unnoble. i don't think you can wait around and wonder if they'll do it. that's why you cannot take a chance, to let that occur. by the way, beyond whether or not it would ever be used, the mere fact of the acquisition of a nuclear weapon by the iran
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nans, i think would kick off an arms race in the region that would be incredibly destabilizing for generations to come. so there's a lot at stake. whether or not ahmadinejad would, quote, use it. the question is, we're not even sure what he controls. >> what do you mean? >> well, what i mean by that is, you know, you have -- the question is, how much of the security apparatus does he control day to day. >> do you think he's the boss? >> it's hard to tell, to tell you the truth. i think that he is the -- in is some concern that the republican-ethat the -- that this is becoming more of a -- >> the revolutionary guard. >> the revolutionary guard. no one knows for certain. the bottom line with regard to iran and nuclear weapons is, it's in no one's interest, no one's interest for iran to have a nuclear weapon. >> do you think the south
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koreans, not just the israelis you're visiting with right now, other countries, particularly, do you think they're worried that ahmadinejad or someone in iran could actually use a weapon like that, or use it to taunt them? >> well, look, i think they're worried on multiple levels. it's not just the israelis. you point out the saudis. i think the entire middle east. i think from the egyptians to the turks, everybody's worried about what it would mean. when you have a nuclear weapon, it allows, the thought is it allows a lot of pressure to be placed upon neighboring countries to refrain from objecting to things that are unacceptable. actually unacceptable conduct. and so whether or not it would be used, or not used, the one thing it would be, would put great deal of pressure on those very countries we're talking about to acquire a nuclear capability themselves. that's in nobody's interest. >> let's talk geography. the united states is a long way from iran, and we're lucky for that. we don't have to worry about a regional threat, intermediate
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strike perhaps or short-range missile. but the israelis do have to worry about that. that difference in geography, what does that do towards us? are they more sensitive to iran than we are in their nuclear threat? >> the answer is yes, i think they are. and the proximities is the reason. but they're also concerned about what kind of -- what kind of neighborhood they would be living in with iran with nuclear weapons. it's a tough neighborhood to begin with. but it would be even a tougher neighborhood to live in if you had the egyptians and the saudis or anyone else feeling compelled to acquire nuclear weapons themselves. so there's nothing positive about it. from the point of view of the israelis, it's an ex oh next threat. they think their very existence is at stake. >> when iran has the capability to build such a weapon or one they had one to launch, when would they become an ex oh
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extension threat? >> i don't think there's a bright line drawn. that's a decision that -- to speculate on i think is not very helpful. >> you and the president, when you talked, maybe you can't tell me now, what that trip wire is, but is there one in your head, or the president's head, a trip wire? >> we are doing everything that is within our power, and we will do everything to prevent iran from getting a nuclear weapon. having the capability to use a nuclear weapon. and, you know, there's a lot of play here. there's a lot going on. a lot going on internally within iraq. the time frame in which they could acquire that. what action we could take to slow it up or prevent that. all of that's in play. that's why we think the best course of action to take now is to declare, a, we are not going to allow them to acquire a nuclear weapon, and b, to continue down the course we're on, which is to get international sanctions that have teeth in it that cause them
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to change their mind. >> are we building a bigger bunker buster? so that we can knock out what they have with a larger -- >> i can't comment on anything like that. look, we -- the president of the united states is in a position that he can guarantee america's security as is. so -- but i'm not speculating on anything like that. >> why do you think he is, ahmadinejad, or whoever's calling the shots, the clerics, why are they sort of talking about moving their weapons system, facilities, and making them more available to attack, like putting them on surface? we're hearing stories like that. are they teasing the israelis? what are they doing? >> i think ahmadinejad would do anything to take the focus on iran off of iran, what's happening internally within iran. >> the politics? >> the politics. >> do you think the people of iran are turning against this leader of theirs? >> it's clear a significant number of people do not think
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this leader, quote ahmadinejad, is a legitimate leader. they don't think he won the election. and it's clear the action that he's taken, the action that the iranian government has taken has been brutal. and has caused, i think, even greater disregard on the part of the people in iran for their government. so i think they've got a real internal problem. >> is the united states taking the position that the election was illegitimate? >> well, the united states takes the position the action, the way in which the election was conducted, was not in keeping with international norms. and that the way in which all those who protested retreated, was outrageous. it was beyond the norms of any nation that calls itself a democracy. >> let's talk about america, and american politics. a lot of our viewers are jewish-americans. they're very concerned about the state of israel and their long-term existence. you're a great friend of israel. everybody knows that.
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let me ask you this question. it's not just they have the weapon. is there a fear, and did you hear it today when you talked to the president, and the prime minister, is there a fear that if they have a weapon, or close to getting one, if they never use it, that that will discourage immigration to israel? that will encourage people, young people leaving in the future not to live here? >> there is no discussion specifically on that point with the president or the prime minister. but there clearly is that concern. that concern exists. it exists on the part not only of israelis, but a lot of other people. it will drastically affect the neighborhood. >> let me ask you about the president. our president, barack obama. do they have any sort of skepticism about -- >> i've not heard anything. >> really? >> here's what i heard today. when we came out of -- i was at a private meeting with the prime minister for over an hour. we walked out. we made a joint statement. he started off pointing out that under barack obama, there's been significant cooperation on military matters, the
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qualitative edge for the israeli forces, cooperation on missile defense, cooperation -- i mean, he went through this whole litany. and it's true. this president -- president obama has been aggressive in his support of israel. and the commitment that israel's security is closely tied to ours. we in fact are committed to israel's security. nothing has changed. >> why did you feel that you -- i saw what you wrote in the book at the president's house today. we all love perez. but you felt the need to write we have an unshakable bond with israel. did you feel the need to say that? >> no, it's just a reaffirmation. it's always what i learned a long time ago, just because you told your wife you loved her when you got married, if you fail to repeat it, you know, all these relationships -- >> what a politician. >> all these relationships have to be worked at. >> i got you. tomorrow we'll bring you part two of my interview with vice president biden. we talked about health care, the economy and why president obama
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hasn't yet made the sale on either to the american public. coming up, president obama's back in campaign mode for the final push on health care reform. will he get congress and the country behind his plan? the strategists join us next. sea salts vary in color and taste. one tops them all. adding it helps us use less salt than before in campbell's tomato soup while keeping the famous flavor. ♪ so many, many reasons ♪ it's so m'm! m'm! good! ♪
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welcome back to "hardball." president obama was back in campaign hype, as he talked about health care yesterday. >> i don't know how passing health care will play politically. but i do know that it's the right thing to do. it's right for our families, it's right for our businesses, it's right for the united states
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of america, and if you share that belief, i want you to stand with me and fight with me. and ask you to help us get over the finish line these next two weeks. the opportunity's here. let's seize reform. it's within our grasp. >> that was the president up in phillie yesterday. will this shift in tone get health care reform done? that's a question for the strategists. steve mcmann is a democratic strategist and todd harris is a republican strategist. let's go to steve first of all. steve, i want you both, by the way, to look at this amazing picture on the front page of "the new york times." appreciate that huge picture, and i want steve to tell us if this hype is smart. >> well, listen, i think there are two things going on here. the first is, to get out of the weeds and talk about health care, not as it's going to do this and this and this, but talk about it as a great big moral issue. talk about it as something that should be above politics. the money line there is, i don't know how this is going to play
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politically, but it's the right thing to do. the second thing i think that's going on is he's trying to set a deadline. he wants congress to vote on this before they go home in two weeks. we don't want to see two more weeks of town meetings that are contentious and make it more difficult to pass this.ç he wants this thing done before he leaves down and before they leave town. i think both things are very smart. >> ironically -- >> todd for the opposition. go ahead. >> ironically the reason why he said, i don't know how this is going to play politically, it's because he knows exactly how it will play politically. it's a dud. not only in terms of national numbers, but look at targeted swing states for senate races, for example. look at arkansas, where voters by 30 points are opposed to this bill. and pennsylvania, by 15 points, voters are opposed to this bill. no one's ever suggested that the president can't give a great
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speech. he certainly can. but by and large the public has made up their mind, they don't like this massive government takeover of the health care system, and they want to put a stop to it. >> but todd, the question here wasn't whether or not the republican talking points have been successful. i'll concede that they have been over the past several months. the question really is, is president obama by taking it to a new and different level here, and i think we both would agree he is, doing the right thing strategically. i think he absolutely is. there's been enough talk about the details of the plan. we all know that 70% of this plan are things that 70% of americans agree with and want. we also know it's been fairly well demonized, so let's just start there. it is a moral issue. it's something that i came to this town a long time ago to work for ted kennedy, whose life's passion was this. we're this close to getting it done. this president promised ted kennedy he would do it. he's stepping it up. he's going to get it done. and i think he's doing the right thing here. >> clearly this is his last, sort of last best effort at getting this thing passed. but steve, i think in terms of the strategy of this, where they
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really screwed up was after the scott brown victory in massachusetts, i think that the white house should have said, okay, we've heard the message. let's break this bill up. there are certain pieces of this bill that have bipartisan support. we're going to pass those so we can start getting something done. instead, they dug their head in the sand, they didn't listen to the message that independent voters were sending about this bill, and i think if they jam this through, the democrats are going to pay a very heavy price this november. >> todd, maybe -- chris, i apologize for doing this. maybe you weren't paying attention last week when the president had the republican leadership up and said what are you going to do about health care reform? their answer was, we're going to start over. let's talk about process. their answer wasn't here are 15 things we want to to. when the president came back two days later and said there were four specific things you mentioned in this meeting that i want to include in this bill, they still said no. it's the party of no. they want to do nothing and they don't want to be held
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accountable for it. i think this november they will be. >> todd, i want to ask you about the strategy of the republican party. and you are in a way evincing it right now. which is to basically say, okay, you're going to get away with this probably but we're going to get you later. we're going to repeal the bill. i'm going to ask you a technical point. would you in a million years think barack obama would sign a bill vetoing -- i'm sorry, in a million years do you think barack obama would sign a bill that re peels health care after having gotten it passed? >> i don't think anyone expects him to do that. i think that the republican strategy when it comes to this bill is quite simple. it's continuing to do exactly what we've been doing, which is communicating the contents of this bill to the american people, independent voters by huge margins are opposed to it. republicans absolutely de test it. and not enough democrats, frankly, support it to get it done. and so whatever, in tems of the process of this, whatever direction that the white house
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chooses to go in, ultimately, of course, that's going to be their decision, but i'm telling you, chris, if they pass this bill, we're going to hang it around their necks come november. >> there are two things i would say in response to that. the first is, that even though there are a lot of details to this bill that are not popular, they're not popular with the right many of them and a lot of aspects not popular with the left either, which to my way of thinking thinks you might have a pretty good believe. most still believe that we need to do something and do it now. the republicans don't want to do anything. and the politics of this are complicated and there are going to be democrats who probably lose because they chast this vote. but that's what leadership is all about. these are the same people who vote to send young people to die for their country, and if a few of them have to cast a really tough vote and it means they have to go home for a couple years, you know, the fact of the matter is, it's not very often you get to do something historic in this town. this town is on the verge of doing it. >> let me just ask you both now, and i want to run the tape now. we're going to keep this tape. this is totally unfair but i'm
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going to do it, because this is "hardball." i'm going to ask both of you right now for the record books, not whether the bill is good or bad, does it take a high tone or not, is it better than what we have, i'm going to ask you a simple political calculation. first steve and then todd. will the president's health care bill, will what we're talking about get through the house, and then get reconciled and then signed? what's the best bet? will it happen or not? first steve, then todd. >> chris, i don't want to bum you out here, but i think nancy pelosi, not tip o'neill, is the best speaker in the congress. this is the toughest vote she's had to round up votes for and probably will be. she's going to get this bill passed and they're going to fix it in the senate and we're going to move on. >> i actually -- i don't agree -- >> that's your bet? >> yes, that's my bet. >> i certainly don't agree with him about speaker pelosi. but i do agree that i think the bill is going to pass out of congress. a lot of conservative swing state democrats are going to
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vote against it but there won't be enough. i think ultimately it will pass. and i think democrats will pay a price for it this november. >> let me ask you one last question now that we've made history with the prediction of both of you that it will pass. this national security question, what is going on here now? i know the republicans have always benefited marginally on the question of national security. but here we have a new poll out now that has national security, democrats 33%, we trust them, and 50% of the country trusts republicans. what do you make about that advantage, which is growing now in the last couple days, or weeks, rather, with republicans? first you, steve, then todd. >> well, what i make of it is it is still easier to scare people than it is to lead people. i think not withstanding the fact that republican members of george bush's justice department have denounced tactics like liz cheney's, calling the al qaeda seven lawyers, the al qaeda seven simply for doing their job, in spite of that, those kinds of things have traction.
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and so that's what you're seeing here. republicans have always had an advantage on national security issues. this president has actually done more to break up al qaeda than was done in the last four or eight years. but the fact is, the scare tactics work. and you're seeing a lot of that right now. >> well, steve can call them scare tactics all day long. but the fact is, liz cheney and her organization tapped into a very real concern, that a lot of americans have. voters especially, independent voters are looking at this administration that is waffling on some of the commitments that they made when it comes to national security. whether it's where these trials are going to be held, whether it's closing guantanamo, and the administration just doesn't look strong. i think that's being reflected in the polling. >> thank you very much, steve mcmahon and todd harris. the strategists. up next, strange new revelations from sarah palin. and that writing on her hand. you're watching "hardball."
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welcome back to "hardball." from jerusalem. time for the "sideshow." the florida senate primary race is getting really hairy. check out what governor charlie crist said about his republican opponent marco rubio in an interview with greta van susteren. >> about two weeks ago it's come out in news accounts he had a credit card he charged a $130 hair cut, or a back wax, we're not sure what he got at that place. initially we were told it was a hair cut. he said, no, it wasn't the hair cut. he had the gall to go on a show and say it was his money. it was a credit card from the republican party. it was party donors' money. i don't know what you do at a salon when you're a guy. i get my hair cut for $11 in st. petersburg where i grew up.
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that's real fiscal conservatism. >> really turning into a strange mess down there in florida. up next, we all know sarah palin's come under a lot of criticism for putting those crib notes on her hand down in nashville. now she's saying god made her do it. or something. listen to what she said at an ohio right-to-life fund-raiser. >> i didn't have a good answer to that. i thought it was ridiculous. but somebody sent me the other day, isaiah 49:16. and you need to go home tonight and look it up. before you look it up, i'll tell you what it says, though. it says, hey, if it was good enough for god scribbling on the palm of his hand, it's good enough for me, for us. he said, in that passage he said, i wrote your name on the palm of my hand to remember you. i thought, okay, i'm in good company. >> if she isn't bothered about being caught cribbing, why does she keep going back to it.
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new york congressman eric massa's resignation brings the number to pass health care for democrats down to 216. so tonight's "big number," 216. up next, all the intrigue here in israel, about the massage role in the assassination of a top hamas leader. the dubai police say closed-circuit cameras captured the assassination teams before and after the hit. we'll get into that next.esses r reinventing the econom small business owners have a lot of questions. can paperless billing get me paid faster? how can i keep my best employees? how can i bring down my insurance costs? and while at american express open we may not have all the answers, we know who does. other owners. that's why we're helping business owners connect. together, we're building a community for them to talk, share and help each other. a place called where owners can swap ideas
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contact fidelity for a prospectus containing this information. read it carefully. i'm mary thompson with your cnbc market wrap. stocks with a modest gain on the one-year anniversary of the march 2009 low fs. the dow industrials adding almost 12 points, up nearly 60% from the year-ago low. the s&p up about 60% from last march. the nasdaq up eight points today gaining more than 80% since march of 2009. if you're keeping score, the biggest overall winners on the dow since the march lows were financials. bank of america up nearly 350%. american express and jpmorgan also seeing triple-digit gains. on the s&p, office depot up more than 1,000% since last
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march. shares climbing more than 3% today. on the nasdaq, apple shares have added more than 260% over the past year. they're up about 2% today. as hype is building around the upcoming release of the company's new ipad. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." from jerusalem. a story that's loaded with intrigue over here in israel. israel's role in the assassination of a senior hamas leader in a dubai hotel room. dubai police released videotapes from closed-circuit cameras that allegedly show the hit squad staking out the hotel and preparing to take out their target. does this hit the hallmarks of a
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mass saad hit? an intelligence columnist for take your time, robert. you're the expert. i've read your column. but start off by telling me, are we sure that musad did this? >> i think almost certainly they did. every suspects they did. one is, israel has not denied it formally. two, you know, just the whole modus operandi is musad. numerous assassins, western european passports, the fact that the identities were stolen inside israel. it was a fairly professional operation. a pistol wasn't used. the man was smothered. they got away cleanly. they traced credit cards to the united states. to an israeli connected company. i just don't think anybody seriously doubts that it's israel. but i think the interesting thing about this is that the
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israelis apparently intended to make this look like a heart attack. the man's clothes were put over a chair neatly, he was put in bed undressed. the room was locked from the inside. they didn't want to get caught at all. they wanted the dubai police to show up and think he died of a heart attack. but the autopsy clearly shows that he had been drugged, paralyzed, and then smothered. there was heart medicine by the side of his bed. so i think that they are very much surprised now at these pictures of 26 musad operatives are out everywhere. these people can never work again. with biometrics, you can see features. even when they're in disguise. i would never risk sending these people overseas ever again. and then you have to look at the fallout of this. not only britain and france and ireland and every other country that has its identity stolen, but remember that the israelis are desperately trying to start a coalition against iran, including the united arab
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emirates, which includes dubai. 75% of refined gasoline going to iran comes through dubai and the emirates. this not the way to start a diplomatic offensive. this operation was botched. it was a failure. and the head of musad should lose its job. >> we're all used to the fact, assuming israel is a really smart country and does things incredibly efficiently, you can argue whether they do the right thing in any situation. they're usually very smart about it. but the first question, did they assume that the dubai police would not do an autopsy? and find out there were chemicals in there that suggested foul play? and number two, didn't they coordinate within musad and the israeli government about the political consequences of the uae not wanting to play ball on really tough energy sanctions? because you know, as you've suggested here, the only way israel can really strangle, if you want to use that term here,
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the ahmadinejad nuclear plant, is to cut off their gasoline and cut off their market for selling crude oil. and if you're not going to do that, you're not really going to get serious about nailing ahmadinejad and putting him down basically politically. so why didn't they look at, one, was there going to be an autopsy, and two, the political consequences? >> i think that they're behind on the science of forensic science. i don't think they ever thought the dubai authorities would link all the cell phones, that there's this technology called walk-back, that you can look at the closed-circuit cameras and connect the dots in the operation. and the fact that there's -- what's called isotopic analysis. and you can see the toxins in the blood and the rest of it. and i don't think that they understood that the dubai authority are using the best consultants in the world to investigate this. you add up all those things, and
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the political, you know, the blowback on this, and i think that the prime minister undoubtedly approved this operation, is starting to regret it. a fine man, hamas militant, he killed two israeli soldiers, arms dealer, needed to be eliminated but not at this price. >> the tactics and strategy is how big a picture do you look at when you plan something. i think you've got a hell of a critique on this. you're a great resource. up next, democratic congressman eric massa re signs. and admits bad behavior. thn goes out and blames the house leadership for his fall from grace. how big a problem is massa? i've never seen anything quite ha ors immense power. the tallest buildings leave the lightest footprints. a fifty-ton train makes barely a mark on the environment. and a country facing climate change finds climate solutions. somewhere in america, we've already answered
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i'm back from jerusalem. let's look to eric massa on the radio sunday. describing an incident that may have played some part in his resignation. >> i danced with the bride and i danced with the bridesmaid. absolutely nothing occurred. i said good night to the bridesmaid. i sat down at the table where all my staff was. all of them, by the way, bachelors. one of them looked at me as they would do, i don't know, after 15 gin and tonics and goodness knows how many bottles of shame pain, one of them said maybe i should be chasing after the bridesmaid. his words were far more colorful than that.
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i grabbed the staff member sitting next to me and said, well, what i really ought to be doing is fracing you. and then tossled the guy's hair and left. now, was that inappropriate of me? absolutely. am i guilty? yes. >> massa's on a media blitz bashing his former colleagues and the white house. he says they squeezed him out because he wouldn't vote with them for health care. he had choice words for white house chief of staff rahm emanuel. is this the kind of circus the democrats don't need as they try to get health care across the goal line. the co-authors of the best-seller "game change." mark, you first. i don't know what to make of this. let me start something more interesting. here's massa talking about, an esks change he had with the chief of staff. it's on the radio show. let's listen. >> rahm emanuel is son of the devil's spawn. he is an individual who would sell his mother to get a vote. he would strap his children to the front end of a steam
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locomotive. he doesn't like that, he can come after me personally. i was a congressman in my first eight weeks, and i was in the congressional gym. i went down and worked out. i went into the showers. which, by the way i can't figure out why they took the shower curtains off the shower stalls. the last thing i want to lock at is my fellow colleagues naked. i'm sitting there showering, naked as a jay bird and here comes rahm emanuel, not even with a towel wrapped around his tush yelling at me because i wasn't going to vote for the president's budget. do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man? >> get the picture? mark? >> chris, i -- >> i don't know what to make of this story. let's start with the scene in the shower of the house gym where he's taking a shower. by the way, complaining the shower curtains aren't there. and rahm emanuel comes along, he says, and puts a finger on him and says something about the health care bill in a rough way. what do you make of this guy bringing this out in the public? a lot to handle here. >> there is a lot. i think there's no reason to
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necessarily believe it's true. this guy has changed his story regarding a lot of the stuff he's talked about. he's getting a lot of attention. but chris, today, he denounced by both gibbs and limbaugh. they both like to eat. so i think mr. massa's 15 minutes of fame is maybe down to 7 1/2, and he's probably out of the picture. the substance here is, he's right about one thing. the white house does need one fewer vote in the house now to pass health care. and so they'll wave good-bye to him pretty happily. >> what do you makei] of this, john? this is an equal opportunity commentary here. this is a guy leaving the house. he says he was jammed out of his position. he said he was accosted nakedly by a naked white house chief of staff. lots of description about his own admitted misbehavior with a male staffer. it's all on the record. i don't know what he gains from all this -- maybe he should just leave quietly, but he's not
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leaving quietly. >> he mentioned something in one of those quotes about a locomotive. i think he may be bidding for the job of the conductor of the crazy train. he is gone, as mark said. he's changed his story quite a few times. he's gone from saying he was retiring because of a recurrence of his nonhodgkins lymphoma, to admitting ethics charges against him. he's basically said he is guilty of those charges. and talks about rahm emanuel in the nude. now he's on the glenn beck show for the full hour today in the united states. you know, i think that the 15 minutes of fame may be what he's after. and had's not a guy i think defines the notion of reliable narrator, at least on the basis of his behavior over the course of last week. >> let's look at robert gibbs. because the white house press secretary felt the need to respond to this development. and so this is now a national story. as strange as it is. here's robert gibbs, normally
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dignified fellow getting into the weeds, if you will, of this story. >> i think this whole story is ridiculous. i think the latest excuse is silly and ridiculous. let's go through what we've heard from congressman massa. last week, on wednesday he was having a recurrence of cancer. on thursday, he was guilty of using insulting language on friday. we learned he's before the ethics committee to be investigated on charges of sexual harassment. so look, i think clearly his actions appear to be in the appropriate venue, in the ethics committee to look at. but we're focused not on crazy allegations, but instead on making this system work for the american people rather than work for insurance companies. >> let's get back to the story here. we started off during the night talking about the 216 votes, and you guys are the superstar political authors of our generation right now. i'm going to test you guys. what are we learning about
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politics in america, the next two weeks? as this health care fight goes down to the very finish? and whether it's going to be 216 or 217 or 214, this is going to be a nail-biter. what do you make of it? you first, mark. this looks like this will be the real test of nancy pelosi and the president. >> it will be a test to both of them. you've seen votes like this. this is going to be one of those votes where they have to take it to the floor without votes in hand. nothing you like to do. it's like a lawyer asking a request ethat you don't know the answer to. they have the votes probably in their back pocket. i think they're closer to getting there than most people do. i think they know where the votes are and they have to say to a few people, we know this could hurt you, cost you your seat in you your seat in november but we need you to vote for this. i think all signs are that, while it will be tough, they're going to get it. >> your thoughts about its probability and what it will tell us about politics. it's almost like a short-term political campaign, john.
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>> it is. i think the one unpredictable element, chris, as you know, is that abortion is at the center of a lot of those votes. >> is that an anti-irish comment, "harping"? is that a comment about my heritage, this "harping" word? i'm just kidding. >> you know i love the irish. whenever abortion is in the mix things become unpredictable. bart stupak and some people in the coalition that he supports are still upset about that abortion language. it makes it a little bit more unpredictable. i think i agree with mark that it's likely to pass but i think the ultimate test here is not just of nancy pelosi and not just of barack obama. it's the same test that the democratic party has been faced with ever since this health care bill came up, which is are they a plausible governing party? can they pull it together when they have large majority in the house and a large majority in the senate even though they have one less than before with scott brown and actually legislate one
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of the most democratic priorities of the past half-century. they're on the line right now. this is up to them as much as the republicans have succeeded in dem going toing this issue and caricaturing this bill in ways that have hurt the president's health care plan, this is ultimately in the hands of democrats. if they can pull it together they'll pass the bill. but that's what it is a test of in the end, is this party capable of legislating. >> people really disagree on the moral question and political question of whether the government should fund abortion rights -- or they do -- most people support abortion rights, period. but the question whether the government should fund is still an issue. tomorrow with vice president biden he promises basically the voters out that their that this bill will not pay for abortion, will honor the hyde amendment. do they have to make further efforto convince people that is the case? >> they can't get the votes with the existing legislation the way it is. they'll promise they'll try to do another piece of legislation, not in the reconciliation bill
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that's required to make some of the fixes between the house and senate bill but a third piece of legislation. i predict that if that's what it takes, if those are the only votes they can use to get to that majority, they'll do it. they can't make a guarantee that it can pass but i think they'll at least say we'll try a third piece of legislation to set a slightly different course. we're going to learn a lot about nancy pelosi but also the people working with her to whip this vote. there is a lot of cross-cutting tensions here and pressures but it is really going to be up to the president and nancy pelosi and pelosi's deputies to make this work and the aforementioned rahm emanuel was a leader in the house and knows how to count votes pretty darn well. >> speaking of rahm emanuel, we have to show you before leaving the topic of eric massa and rahm emanuel. here's a golden oldie of four years ago, a clip of massa and rahm emanuel in sweeter times, talking about veterans running for congress. of course eric massa is a long-time nama navy veteran. >> i can grab eric for one
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second? do you mind? you got to raise $200,000 per month for the next four months. >> i know. >> okay? there's no o -- otherwise it ain't going to happen. >> i agree. >> don't let your family down. second, you've got to smile. have fun. if all people see is anger, they'll see anger. you ever remember a person not likable winning? okay. be likable. >> all right. got it. >> rahm emanuel told me i was too uptight. [ bleep ] him. of course for now him to say i'm too upsite, i've never seen him smile once in all the times i've watched him on tv. but i took his advice. like you said, i try to put it in there when i came. >> i love that from rahm emanuel, be more likable. i love it! thank you, guys. mark halperin, continued luck -- rather greatness with your great book, "game change." i'll have final thoughts
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something unusually spiritual for this program. this trip to jerusalem, like so many of you take later in life, is for me a return to long ago,
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perhaps too long ago to truly recall. we spent so much of our lives, let's face it, acting as if we remember what we experienced years, decades ago when what we're really doing is resaver g i ing a memory we've been treasuring. december, 1970, 30 years ago, i'd come in the night from africa for a month in this wildly religious city of jerusalem i lived in a an arab hotel above damascus gate. i'd watch each evening to the church where supposedly christ died. then i'd have dinner with the other young travelers in the old city, chicken or shishkebob, then off to the western part of the city, the jewish part, to see the latest movie just in from hollywood. what i kept in hieart and head all these years, the combination, christian, arab, jewish, the deeply spiritual experience of coming to this holy city, after living a


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